The Washington Free Beecon says Venezuela’s state-run oil company and Citgo, its U.S. subsidiary, paid lobbying firms millions to resist sanctions by the United States. Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio introduced the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act in 2014, with the goal of sanctioning Venezuelan officials for cracking down on journalists and political opposition.
Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) and Citgo paid six lobbying firms more than $5.4 million since 2014, when the act was introduced.
Citgo officials were concerned that the act would prevent U.S. refineries from importing Venezuelan oil. When the bill came to the Senate floor on Dec. 8, 2014, Menendez offered an amendment that protected Citgo and PDVSA from the sanctions.
The legislation directed President Obama to sanction “any current or former official of the government of Venezuela or any person acting on behalf of that government” if that person was considered to have violated the rights of Venezuela’s political opposition.
The Free Beacon reports that lobbyists are still at work for Venezuela, even after Obama’s 2015 executive order did not target Citgo or PDVSA.
PDVSA issued a debt payment notice to Paraguay in “impulsive and unfriendly terms” according to Petropar president Eddie Jara, reported by Business Insider.
The notice came after Paraguay requested a meeting of a South American trade group to discuss whether Venezuela had violated its rules.
PDVSA has had issues paying its suppliers. Four tankers loaded with U.S. crude are sitting at sea because PDVSA has not paid BP to discharge them at a Caribbean terminal, according to Reuters.